Does the Coalition have an Islamophobia problem? Waleed Aly grills Scott Morrison on The Project in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack
- Scott Morrison agreed to go head-to-head with Waleed Aly on The Project
- The decision comes after the PM slammed Aly for claims he referred to as ‘lies’
- Aly accused the PM of exploiting fears of immigration as a political strategy
- The claims come after Aly’s emotional response to the Christchurch massacre
Project host Waleed Aly has grilled Scott Morrison in the wake of the Christchurch attack and asked if the Coalition government has an Islamophobia problem.
Aly put the question to the prime minister in a live on-air interview on Thursday night, following a week of ongoing tension.
‘Does the coalition have a problem with Islamophobia?’
Aly and Mr Morrison first clashed last week after the Project host’s emotion-charged response to the Christchurch terrorist attack on Friday.
The host took aim at anti-Muslim sentiment in politics and claimed the PM had once told colleagues to exploit fears of Muslim immigration as a political strategy in a 2010 cabinet meeting.
Mr Morrison promptly slammed the claims as ‘lies’ and cancelled an appearance on the show earlier this week – though has since done a u-turn and agreed to come on the show Thursday night.
The PM’s appearance on The Project will be a commercial free sit down one-on-one conversation with Aly
Scott Morrison (pictured) and Waleed Aly will go head-to-head on The Project on Thursday night
The Prime Minister’s decision to appear comes after The Project embarrassingly made a factual error in an editorial countering Scott Morrison’s claim the show was responsible for a ‘disgraceful smear’ on his reputation.
On Wednesday night, The Project host, Hamish MacDonald returned fire at the Prime Minister, saying: ‘The PM says he wants the truth. Well, here are some facts.’
Unfortunately, his speech almost immediately contained a factual error and The Project was forced to Tweet a correction shortly after it aired.
MacDonald said claims Morrison advocated an anti-Muslim election strategy were reported in 2010, when they were actually reported in 2011.
Aly’s accusation against Morrison was drawn from a 2011 report published by Fairfax that said Morrison – who was the Opposition’s immigration spokesman at the time – had brought up the strategy at a shadow cabinet meeting but it was knocked back.
On whether or not the meeting happened, MacDonald said: ‘In truth, no-one but those in that room can now say for sure what was said and there does seem to be two very distinct versions.
‘But we as a country know what our leaders have been saying about refugees and immigrants and Muslims for well over a decade.’
MacDonald compared Mr Morrison’s heated response to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
‘If anything paints a clearer picture on the state of Australian politics today it is this; after Waleed made that genuine, thoughtful, and reasoned contribution on Friday night — a plea for our community to come together — the Prime Minister of our country threatened to sue.
‘In contrast, New Zealand’s Prime Minister invited Waleed to her country to sit down for an interview.
‘If you want to know why I’m here tonight and not Waleed that’s why, that’s where he is.’
The Project embarrassingly made a factual error in a speech claiming to provide ‘some facts’ to Scott Morrison on Wednesday night
The dispute erupted after Aly’s emotional response to the Christchurch terrorist attack included the PM told colleagues to exploit fears of Muslim immigration as a political strategy
Mr Morrison aimed his criticism at Aly earlier on Wednesday on ABC TV and labelled the accusation an ‘appalling lie’.
He pointed out he had a long history of working with the Islamic community.
‘That’s why I’m welcomed when I attend mosques in south-western Sydney, with warm embraces,’ he said.
‘Perhaps if people focused a bit more on the story they don’t want to tell about my relationship with people of all faiths in this community, then perhaps they wouldn’t leap to make prejudiced conclusions.’
The PM also said he would not sue after his office previously called Aly’s comments defamatory.
Aly has visited New Zealand where he spoke to PM Jacinda Ardern, which will be aired on Monday.
Mr Morrison aimed his criticism at Aly earlier on Wednesday on ABC TV and labelled the accusation an ‘appalling lie’